Firstly, I recommend watching this TEDx talk before reading onwards, not because this post is solely on the project. But because it is challenging perceptions we all have about why and how we do work . I’ll allow work to be a fairly loose definition as of now, but will touch on volunteering to some extent later. If you want, watch the video now (17mins). If you really can not be bothered, “too-long-didn’t-watch”: The Ugly Indian is simply a movement where a group of people anonymously goes and clean up public spaces, posting a before and after photo for the world to see.
So, what I want to state in the beginning is that this example of result oriented work culture is lacking, in my opinion. I think society has its large inefficiencies that goes by many names. To solve these inefficiencies we are having a rise in ways to challenge and beat the system. Simple examples (which I may elaborate/discuss in later posts); Uber as a taxi service, ZipCar on car ownership and Taleris on aircraft engines.Tim Orily put it brilliantly; “jobs aren’t disappearing, they are changing, and there will always be a need for people to do work”. Google thinks so too, regarding the way we work as an area of of improvement. It seems we need to change the way we work, in line with the fact that jobs are changing this may be challenging. A few weeks ago I stumbled across the phrase Meetnapping. Having no corporate life experience, I still find this amusing as I can relate to pointless group meetings, again I bring up Google. I believe that we are steadily progressing towards a work culture where one’s ability to complete a task is valued more and therefor we can discuss the validity of the 40 hour work week. Which of course Tim Ferriss famously targeted in his book: The 4 Hour Workweek.
So, if The Ugly Indian is such an effective method of working towards solving problems, what can we learn and hopefully take with us to another place of “deployment”. Especially considering that the problems being solved seemingly never had any functioning or viable solution from before. Volunteering can’t be sustained as nothing is free. But how about commission? A pure reward by output model? I doubt it. Having worked in such an environment before I can safely say motivation and quality of work becomes a far too easy to sacrifice. Which I would say is why The Ugly Indian has its principles as it mentions in the video; no money, no identity and no talk. Meet up get things done and move on. To close I’ll quote Harry S Truman. “It is amazing what you can accomplish if you do not care who gets the credit”. (Almost as amazing as Truman’s middle name is S, and does not stand for anything. )